Stephen A. Smith Opens Up on ESPN Layoffs

Stephen A. Smith Discusses ESPN Changes & Impact

by Nouman Rasool
Stephen A. Smith Opens Up on ESPN Layoffs
© Tim Heitman/Getty Images

In the wake of heavy restructuring at ESPN, popular "First Take" and "The Stephen A. Smith Show" host Stephen A. Smith expressed mixed feelings after the departures of Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson from the sports network's programming.

Speaking his mind, Smith reminisced about the duo that have been considerable figures in basketball broadcasting. During his show, Smith discussed Van Gundy’s recent transition to a prominent position as the lead assistant coach under Ty Lue with the Los Angeles Clippers.

He praised Van Gundy's return to the coaching realm, emphasizing his successful reunion with Lue. But Smith did not hide his disappointment in not having Van Gundy and Jackson on ESPN: "I miss Jeff Van Gundy. I miss Mark Jackson.

They were an A-team, exceptional at what they did, and brought a riveting presence to basketball broadcasting for over a decade." These were respected colleagues with talents well honed over the years. Smith said that the observation was not an indictment of the skill level of Mike Breen, J.J.

Redick, or Doris Burke but more a reflection on the chemistry and overall expertise that Van Gundy and Jackson could offer this network.

Van Gundy's Personal Struggle

The conversation took a poignant turn when Smith mentioned a personal tragedy affecting the Van Gundy family, underscoring the human aspect behind these professional transitions.

He relayed how Jeff Van Gundy had found solace in the consultancy role with the Boston Celtics following his ESPN departure, which fell into place with the dark times of personal loss and the Celtics' historic NBA win. Smith put job insecurity into the frame of a very unpredictable media industry, mentioning recent layoffs at Meta and Apple.

Business can be very merciless; he went on to say "In business, when cuts come, they come. It's often cruel but not unexpected." Though he did say something about his disappointment at the exits of Van Gundy and Jackson, Smith spent most of the time noting and sharing how much he loves this ESPN team.

Figures like Richard Jefferson to Ryan Ruocco were commended for all their efforts, with even a plea for more chalkboard opportunities for the great Tim Legler, whom Smith respects as an excellent analyst who needs more runway.

Stephen A. Smith